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Coping with fainting

I've been a fainter since my early teens and the first time I fainted was pretty embarrassing. I'd gone to London with my best friend and her parents to see a travel show, although for me and my friend it was more about the trip to London than the actual travel show. The show was really busy and packed with people and I started to feel a bit weird. Then I fainted right in the middle of a crowd. I woke up on the floor with loads of people looking at me and then security escorted me away to go and see a medic, how mortifying! 

Although it has been quite a rare occurrence since then I've started suffering regularly since June 2014 and it's now something I have to make sure I'm prepared for, especially in the summer. Technically I've only ever fainted once, that first time in London, but ever since I've had a 100% success rate at avoiding actually fainting. Although I know the signs well and know how to deal with them I'm aware many people have possibly never fainted before and may not know what to do to try and prevent it happening. So I thought I'd do a post to help you identify when you might be about to faint and what to do to try and stop it.

There may be different reasons why somebody might faint. For me it's related to not having eaten, forgetting to drink, or overheating, but when it comes to my brother he faints when it comes to things like needles and hospitals (and he's getting worse!). The advice I'm providing here works for tackling the reasons why I faint, but might not necessarily work for fainting for other reasons. It can only help though.

The signs 

The first sign will be that you'll start to feel unwell. For me I'll start to feel a little light-headed and like I'm starting to struggle to support my own body weight, so I might need to hold on to someone or something to support me. I'll also start to feel hot and as it progresses will feel hotter and hotter and will probably be sweating quite badly. Any noise or anybody talking to me will start to sound distant, like they're a long way away from me. If I'm walking I'll probably start to sway a little and will have trouble 'finding my feet'. The last thing to happen will be I'll lose my vision. At first it will go fuzzy, probably around the edges like tunnel vision, then go completely and then I'll faint. I also asked my brother and he said he'll just see white, as well as feeling unwell and becoming hot. The closest I've come to actually fainting since the first time in London was two years ago on set. In fact that was the start of me starting to experience fainting regularly. It was baking hot and I was in full period costume consisting of two or three skirts, an apron, a blouse, two corsets, a jacket, a shawl, a cap and a bonnet. I was down to around 50% vision and I walked into a wall, while we were filming! 

What to do

Sit down - If you start to feel the early signs, whether you think you might end up fainting or not, the best thing to do is sit down. If there are no chairs, walls, benches or anything else you can sit on then just sit on the floor. Yes you might get a few strange looks but believe me it's far better to get yourself sat on the floor safely rather than leaving it until you fall and risk hurting yourself. Yes in films people's legs go and they crumple elegantly to the floor or into a handsome man's arms, but according to my friend when I fainted I fell like a plank a wood into a poor unsuspecting man's back (mortifying!). You probably won't end up looking like the image I've used above. If you can sit with your knees up so you can rest your head on or between your knees that will also help, but in general just get yourself on the floor. If you can lay down that's even better but to be honest that's only really possible if you're at home, unless you're fine with laying down in the supermarket or the middle of the street!

Remove clothing - Be sensible with this one. If you can take off a coat/scarf/jumper etc then do to let your body temperature come down. If it's hot I carry a small water spray with me and if needed I'll spray it on my face, wrists and the back of my neck to help bring my temperature down. 

Drink water - As I said dehydration is a contributing factor towards me fainting. I've always had a problem with drinking water because I hate the taste, but since I started fainting I've forced myself to start drinking it and usually always have a bottle with me. Even if dehydration is not the cause of feeling faint it will help you to recover and feel better. 

Dioralyte - Although water on its own is good I would recommend adding Dioralyte. This is intended for replacing lost fluids and salt when you have diarrhoea, but it's perfect for helping your recover after a fainting spell. This is what the medics on set carry around in their kit and give you to help stop you fainting/recover from fainting. You just pop a sachet in a bottle of water and drink it. You can barely detect it, it just makes the water a little cloudy and sweet and it's surprising how much this perks you up. I now always carry a couple of sachets in my bag just in case.

Eat - Ideally it's probably best if you eat something as soon as possible. A meal or a sandwich or even something like a few biscuits would be good but I know this isn't always practical. Although I don't do it all the time if I'm on set or going to be out for a long time in the summer I'll carry a little packet of biscuits (things like those Belvita breakfast biscuits are good) or even better something like a little pack of Jelly beans or Jelly babies for the sugar.

The main one is definitely sitting down, but if you can do at least a few of the other as well then you should feel fine in about 10-15 minutes. I would be a little cautious for the rest of the day though. On some occasions I've gone on to do maybe another 10 hours on set with no problems and other times I have had other spells later in the day (in the full period costume for example, I did have two corsets on!).

Have you ever suffered from fainting?

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  1. This was such an interesting read! I've only ever fainted once when I'd been ill for a few weeks and not been able to keep anything (food or fluids) down - I fainted in the bathroom and smacked my head on the toilet as I fell... It was horrible, I can't imagine having to deal with it regularly! It's good that you've got it figured out so well and can cope with it :)

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

    1. Oh that sounds awful! That's why I think getting yourself sat down as quickly as possible is the most important thing to do as there's so much risk of injury if you fall from full height x


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